Author's Note: Welcome to another sequel. I generally don't do sequels, but… I don't know. I was re-reading some of my past pieces and upon finishing one of them, I decided I wanted to delve a little deeper, perhaps. So, this is—technically—the sequel to "It Starts with a Single Flake". See, look! I do listen to you guys (you know who you are. Look, I'm learning! Lol. I love you.)
Thank you for reading.
Tossing and turning.
It's all John seemed to do upon laying in his bed.
He'd be the first to admit, it wasn't exactly the most comfortable bed. It was old, and the springs were a bit warped in some places, and there was definitely an indentation right in the center which he'd often found himself rolling into, but that had never stopped him before. Life with Sherlock Holmes made him grateful for any sleep. He'd cherished his bed as though it were made of clouds, ones which cradled him after long, strenuous nights of running and jumping and panicking at the side of Sherlock. He would flop into his bed and pull the covers up, and the night would disappear behind his eyelids, and he'd immediately fall into a deep, deep sleep.
But not lately.
Lately, John had found himself waking every hour. And even the sleep he would acquire was strangely lucid, never quite falling under enough to rest him. He'd switch positions consciously, he'd hike up the covers, he'd flop and flip and finally, with an aggravated grumble, find himself waking and staying awake until Sherlock emerged. Or, on nights of a particularly mind-boggling case, would accompany Sherlock in the living room.
John wasn't Sherlock though.
John needed his sleep.
He was becoming slowly duller, and certainly more irritable. Work was becoming unbearable, and cases with Sherlock were running him ragged. He only wanted sleep, a proper sleep, one that would deafen him to even the sounds of gun shots. He tried to remember the last time he'd properly slept. It seemed like ages ago, and his sluggish mind was having trouble pin-pointing an exact date.
But Sherlock could recall the exact date.
It was the last time he'd gotten proper sleep as well.
Sleeping wasn't high up on the list of Sherlock's priorities. Not typically. He could think of exactly fourteen things he'd rather occupy his time with, on any given night. He understood, of course, that at some point he would, in fact, have to sleep. His body would naturally begin shutting down, and he would have to succumb to the need.
Though even at his most exhausted, he wouldn't properly sleep. His senses were always conspiring against him, keeping him awkwardly alert even as he drifted off. Every creak, every shift, every change in the air seemed to wake him, but never just wake him. He would bolt upright, wild-eyed as he scanned the room, then grumble as he laid back down and attempted sleep for the next half hour.
It was a curse at times, his brilliant mind.
The last time he or John had come into proper sleep was exactly two weeks and five days ago.
They were in the back of a broken down car, in the middle of a Latvian snow-storm, and they were conserving body heat.
Sherlock knew that. He wouldn't admit it, though. He'd taken time to ponder, of course, the reasoning behind such. Why would he have slept better in a cramped SUV, half-naked with the possibility of freezing sitting on his back? The thrill of such wouldn't have done so—such an act generally would've kept him reeling, kept his mind sharp and his eyes wide. There were no other possible explanations.
It was John.
With John laying beside him, with his arms wrapped around him, Sherlock had felt…different. He hadn't felt the need to jolt himself awake, to keep himself alert enough to react in case of emergency. He was relaxed, even in the back of the broken down car, even with the cold slipping through the cracks of the doors and windows. Even with his bare chest pressing against John's. He was relaxed. He felt… well, safe. Safe enough to sleep soundly. To wake up a whopping eight hours later, feeling refreshed.
John hadn't made that connection yet. Sherlock was well aware of that fact as well. He could hear, from his own bed, John's constant flipping and flopping. He could hear the loud grumbles of irritation. He would listen to John's padded footsteps as he made his way down into the kitchen, and back up to his room. Sherlock was waiting. He was being patient, allowing John to come around to it.
And Sherlock needed sleep.
John wasn't surprised to find Sherlock sitting in his arm-chair at 2:57 that morning when he groggily made his way downstairs. He flopped into the armchair opposite and exhaled, rubbing his eyes. He rested his head against his propped hand. "Can't sleep?" he mumbled toward Sherlock.
Sherlock's legs were drawn up to his chest. His forehead was resting against his knees. "I don't sleep." he muttered, a slight edge to his voice.
John huffed, shutting his eyes. "Everyone sleeps."
"I'm aware of that. My predicament isn't that I never sleep. It's that I do not, as of late, sleep." Sherlock heaved the words from his chest as he lifted his head. His brain, the only sound part of him, was turning to mush. John's eyes opened, gazing at Sherlock from under heavy, heavy lids. "You too?"
Sherlock just heaved a heavy, weary sigh. His legs slipped from the chair and his feet hit the floor with a thud. His body slid down the back of the chair until he was almost completely off it. "Every attempt I make, I wind up waking up moments later." he grumbled.
"I hardly even get there." John lamented. "I drop into half-sleeps, where it's like… I'm sleeping, but I still feel everything going on around me."
They both became silent. Sherlock fought himself back into the chair properly, looking to John. Sherlock needed John. And Sherlock was almost certain that John needed him. He couldn't sit about waiting for John to admit it to himself. "When was the last time you had a proper night of sleep?" he asked suddenly.
John shook his head slowly, sighing. "I have no idea. It seems like centuries ago." he mumbled. His eyes closed once again.
"I know." Sherlock said. John opened his eyes, vaguely seeing Sherlock. He was leaning forward, his elbows propped against his knees. "I know the exact date in which you had a full sleep. The very moment." He was staring hard at John. His hands came up to his mouth, his fingers steepled over his lips. John gave a long, slow blink in reply. "How do you—"
"Exactly two weeks and five days ago." Sherlock cut into his sentence. John's eyebrows furrowed. "What?" he asked, voice muffled with confusion.
"Two weeks and five days ago. It was the last time you had a proper sleep. It was also the last night I had a proper sleep." The words were tipping from Sherlock's lips without much thought. He'd already thought out the statistics. The problem, at that moment, was convincing John of the next course of action. "Do you recall what happened nearly three weeks ago?" he asked.
"I can't even remember what happened three hours ago, Sherlock." John grumbled.
"Think, John. Three weeks ago. We were on a case." Sherlock had a knack for being patient with John. It was the only time he could muster such patience. John sighed loudly as he shut his eyes once again. Three weeks ago? John hadn't the faintest idea. They could've been on any number of cases. They were all starting to blur together, if he was being honest. "I don't know, Sherlock. Why's it matter?"
"Three weeks ago we were on a case in Latvia." Sherlock said evenly.
John nodded after a thoughtful pause. "Right, right. The one for Mycroft." he said. Pieces were coming to him. The illegal weapon dealer hadn't been at all what he'd thought he'd be. The hotel door didn't lock properly, so he carried most of his things with him. The car they had rented had been questionable at best. There had been a snow storm. John opened his eyes lazily, peering at Sherlock. Stuck in the back of a car, half-naked, Sherlock's arm pressed against his back. The way Sherlock's breath felt against his collar bone.
The last time John had had any decent sleep was the night in the back of the car in Sherlock's arms.
And Sherlock had figured that out.
"Now that you understand," Sherlock said suddenly. He sat back in his seat, dropping his hands into his lap. "We can discuss the next course of action."
John stared. Sherlock had figured out that the last time John had properly slept was in Latvia. It wouldn't have been too far a leap to say that the reason John had slept well was because of Sherlock. But in saying that… John stared. Sherlock hadn't slept well either. Neither of them had slept properly for the exact same amount of time. A long, complicated string of questions and comments and phrases came twirling up in John's head, but they all seemed like too much work to speak. Instead, he went with something simple. "What?"
Sherlock rolled his eyes. "John, do pay attention. The next course of action. You haven't slept well without me, I haven't slept well without you. The answer to our sleep deprivation dilemma is quite obvious."
Sherlock grumbled beneath his breath, standing. "Shall we not play these little games? I'm becoming irritable." he said, presenting his hand. John looked at it. He wasn't entirely sure of what Sherlock was suggesting, but if he hadn't known better, it might have been to come to bed. Sherlock rolled his eyes once again, leaning forward and grabbing up John's hands. He pulled him up and out of the seat. "Must I take all of the initiative? Here is the explanation. Neither of us can sleep without one another, apparently. Therefore, the solution is to stop attempting. I'm now taking you to my bed, where both of us can finally get the rest we need." Sherlock explained as he dragged John behind him.
"You're taking me to bed." John said dimly.
"John, don't make this pornographic. It's nothing of the sort."
"I never…" he trailed off.
Sherlock dropped his hand once they'd entered his room. John watched as Sherlock methodically stripped off his dressing gown and hung it. He turned back to John, eyes expectant. "Please don't stand and watch me strip. It's quite unnerving." Sherlock said, turning his back to John as he lifted the t-shirt from his torso.
"What are you—"
"John, we've been over this. If I have to repeat myself again, I'm going to use force while I do so." Sherlock said over his shoulder. "Now, please, get comfortable. I'm rather exhausted and I can imagine you are as well."
John never understood why he felt compelled to follow Sherlock's orders. And perhaps, had he been just a little more awake, he'd have argued against the idea. But the facts were laid out nice and neat for him. He needed Sherlock's body beside him to sleep. That was the problem with having a taste of what the heart truly wanted—it was hard to go back once it was ripped away. With that in mind, he slipped out of the dressing gown he wore, hanging it upon the headboard. He did the same with flimsy t-shirt he wore.
Sherlock was already sliding beneath the comforter. John threw back the bedding on the available side and promptly sat down. He laid down, nerves suddenly enveloping his sleepy mind. Sherlock sighed as he looked to John. "Let's not go through this again. This is nothing new."
"We're in your bed."
"And neither of us have removed our trousers. Honestly, John. I haven't got the time to play. I need sleep." he said. He scooted up close to John's side, his arm flopping over John's chest.
And very suddenly, John did feel at ease.
He swallowed quietly as he flipped onto his side, facing Sherlock. He dragged the comforter up over his shoulder before sliding his arm over Sherlock's waist. Sherlock's eyes had been closed—they opened upon feeling John turn. "Alright?" Sherlock asked quietly. They were face-to-face. Months ago, John may have gulped. He may have stammered something about how he couldn't do it, how it was uncomfortable to be that close to Sherlock. He would've been terrified of what someone would think. But in that moment, with his head swimming and his body warm and his arms finally content, he simply nodded. "Yeah, I'm alright." he said.
Sherlock nodded in return, his eyes slowly shutting as his arm made its way over John once again.
"Sherlock." John mumbled after a long silence. He was just nearly asleep, just barely awake, but the question plagued him. Sherlock made a noise of acknowledgment. "What does this mean?" he asked quietly.
Sherlock sleepily opened his eyes. They peered at him, bright blue, just below his half-shut lids. "What do you mean?" he slurred.
"We can't sleep without one another. What does that mean?" John asked.
Sherlock shut his eyes again, shrugging his shoulders lazily. "Could mean a number of things." he muttered. "Could mean nothing. I don't think right now is the moment to discuss it." His words were barely enunciated enough to be real words. "Right." John simply mumbled in reply.
Neither of them would know of just how similar their thoughts were at that exact moment. Neither would know that they both found the situation slightly comedic, or that both could lay in that position the entire night without moving happily. As John gripped Sherlock closer, he wouldn't know that Sherlock was feeling more and more contented to lie in John's arms every night. As Sherlock's leg slipped gently between John's, he wouldn't realize that John could wish for nothing more in that moment than to sneak a kiss to Sherlock's lips.
At that exact moment, neither would know that they'd accidentally fallen for one another.
But they'd figure it out soon enough.